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The point is that a computer system can be entirely understood from the chips on up. Sure, it gets complex with millions of LOC. But we humans designed computers and wrote the code. Biology is not like that, and there is lack of a completed understanding form the proteins on up. So you get the complexity amplified on all fronts.



Biological signals are very noisy. By contrast, CS signals are much cleaner. Only when CS delves into large volumes of social data do signals complicate. But even then, the cooked events of digital data is much cleaner than the raw signals inherent in bio-data. The complexity, interdependency, nonlinearity, and unknowns in bio variables are frequently overwhelming even for experts.

Success in biological research is driven by the scientist's ability to sort wheat from all this chaff, and it's acquired by gathering the data themselves hands-on in wet labs. A master biologist has learned how to navigate that space experimentally and analytically using techniques they've mastered just well enough to see over the noise.

As someone with degrees in both bio and CS and 15 years of work that crosses the boundary between them, I'm decidedly more in awe of those who have mastered biology.


What do you mean "can"? Nobody ever does, so I think it is valid to say that it "cannot". Otherwise, you could just as well say that a biological system can be understood from the atoms on up, since quantum theory provides a complete understanding.

I think that you and a lot of people in this thread don't understand the impossibility of understanding millions of lines of code. Do you really think "computer geeks" just hold them all in their heads, and then assume that since they can do that, it must not be difficult?


> Do you really think "computer geeks" just hold them all in their heads, and then assume that since they can do that, it must not be difficult?

No, but I think a group of geeks could. However a group of biologists cannot explain a biological system in full. When I say a computer system can be understood in full, I mean that human knowledge encompasses the working and programming of the machine, not that one person could know every detail. This is not the case for biology, as there's plenty we don't know.

> Otherwise, you could just as well say that a biological system can be understood from the atoms on up, since quantum theory provides a complete understanding.

It really doesn't provide a complete understanding for biology anymore than it does for sociology. It's not possible for humans to reductively explain such fields in terms of physics. No one can even prove this is possible. But it's not a complete understanding for physics either, since there's Relativity and questions about quantum gravity and dark energy.




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